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Anti-scratch mitts — two ways

If you have no interest in baby clothing for any reason, you might want to move along and come back next time because this is about as niche a post as I can get. OK…

New babies have fingernails that grow like Topsy (who WAS Topsy, anyway?) and for little helpless creatures, they can scratch up their faces (and possibly their eyes, too) a lot, so many parents buy shirts and sleepers that have integrated ‘scratch mitts’ at the openings of the sleeves. Or, they get/made little mitts for the babies, or they do what we always did with the Little Siberians, which is to put socks over their hands. Now, the only problem with that is that sooner than later, you lose one or more socks and you go crazy trying to find them and since they are very small, they are easily lost.

So, since your Aunt Toby is furiously producing sleepers these days, I thought I’d demo how to either integrate the mitts right while you are making a shirt or sleeper for a teeny person OR, if you already have shirts or sleepers that do not come with mitts (and I am always astonished at the fact that a large percentage of newborn clothing does NOT), this will also show you how to add them to something you already have made or bought.

First UP: For an already made or bought item
Step one (see picture at the top): Lay one sleeve out flat with the sleeve seam centered and facing you. Pin one side down to something and then stretch out the sleeve as far as the knit will stretch and pin it down there also. As in the photo, measure that distance.

Step two: Cut two pieces of fabric, on the grain. The width should match the measurement you just took plus a half an inch. The length should be 2.5-3 inches. Fold the piece of fabric in half width-wise so that the fold is the same size as that measurement you took plus the half an inch. With as teeny a stitch as you can make, sew down the open sides, keeping the bottom open. Turn your little bag inside out and poke out the corners so that they square up. Then overcast or zigzag the bottom edges together to finish them off. Fold the cuff in half along the seam and mark the opposite side across from it – that is your center point on the back of the cuff. Fold your little bag in half along the finished edge and mark that. Taking the cuff, match up the pin on the cuff on the right side with the pin on the little bag and pin them together. Then stretch out the edge of the cuff and put the left hand edge of the little bag there and pin that; do the same on the right hand side. Sew the cuff and your little bag together close to the edge of each, stretching as you go. Then, flip the little bag so that it hangs off the end of the cuff and re-sew it at the edge of the cuff. Trim all your threads.

As you can see from the photo, you then flip it back to the back of the cuff and pin. Then, at the corners of the little bag, take 4-5 small hand stitches to secure the corners of the bag to the cuff itself.

Then, turn the little bag over the cuff and there you are – not quite instant scratch mitt at the end of the baby’s sleeve. Do the same for the other cuff and little bag and you are all set.

Second Up: Sewing a mitt when you make the sleeve for a sleeper or shirt.

This is slightly trickier.

Step one: As you can see from the photo, I have already cut out the sleeves for this sleeper and I’m measuring the bottom edge. Ordinarily, what you do with a shirt or sleeper with knit ribbing is that you have a small piece of ribbing slightly less than the measurement of the bottom edge of the shirt and you make a ring out of the ribbing, sew up the sleeve and then attach the ring to the bottom. Very easy but I’m not going to do this mitt in that way (though I’m thinking that I probably could). So I have the measurement of the bottom and I subtract an inch or so from that.

And I made a pattern that looks like this piece of striped goods here, with the flap at the top. The measurement of the bottom of the pattern is 6″; the flap at the top is 3″ wide by 1.5″ long. The whole piece from the top of the flat to the bottom is 4.5″ long. And I cut this with the fold of the ribbing AT THE TOP OF THE FLAP, with the ribbing going from top to bottom. I did that twice. Then, with the little piece with the fold at the top, I sewed down each side of the flap and across the cut-in on both sides and turned it inside out.

I then marked the half-way point at the bottom edge and also the half-way point at the bottom edge of the sleeve, matched those up and pinned them, right side to right side. The white ribbing piece is smaller than the bottom of the sleeve – if it is NOT, then take your opportunity right now to trim it a bit so that it is slightly smaller than the bottom edge of the sleeve so that you have to stretch it a bit when you sew the two of them together. Sew them together.

Then, right side to right side, fold the sleeve along the long sleeve inside seam and sew down that with a 3/8″ (or whatever is directed in your pattern) seam. Turn the sleeve right side out. Trim threads and anything else that needs it.

Flip the flap to the outside of the cuff and pin to the cuff. Take a needle and thread and secure the flap to the cuff itself at the corners of the flap with 4-5 hand stitches, secure the thread and trim.

Then turn the flap back over the other side of the cuff and there you are – anti-scratch mitt. Do the same for the other sleeve and then insert the sleeves into the shirt or sleeper according to your pattern’s directions.

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